Pentagon suggests more US trainers will be sent to Iraq

The United States might send more trainers to Iraq to help local forces retake Mosul from the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), a U.S. defense official said Wednesday. 

"The reason we need new trainers or additional trainers is because that's really the next step in generating the amount of combat power needed to liberate Mosul," said Army Col. Steve Warren, a spokesman for the ISIS effort.

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Sending more U.S. trainers for the Iraqi army and police forces was floated by Defense Secretary Ashton Carter during a press conference on Tuesday en route to Paris. 

"I expect the number of trainers to increase, and also the variety of the training they're giving," Carter said.

There are currently 3,670 U.S. troops in Iraq, according to the Pentagon. 

Warren said several more Iraqi brigades need to be trained in preparation for the offensive on Mosul, the second largest city in Iraq that ISIS captured in June 2014. 

The number of additional trainers needed are in the "hundreds," but not all of them would be from the United States, Warren said. The total number still needs to be worked out with the Iraqi government. 

"We don't have a solid number yet as we continue to work the analysis of the force generation process," he said. 

Carter met on Wednesday in Paris with defense ministers from 26 nations at an anti-ISIS conference, and talked to them about increasing the number of troops they are contributing to the fight.  

"The secretary of Defense said there are no free rides here. We expect everyone to step up and to contribute as best that they can," Warren said.

Warren left open the possibility of more troops being needed to support the trainers. 

He said approximately eight Iraqi brigades would be needed in the offensive against Mosul, while only three are trained now. 

Since two brigades could be made up of Peshmerga fighters, "several more" Iraqi brigades would need to be fielded and trained. 

Meanwhile, Warren said Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has requested more enablers for the fight, such as intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance assets, or drones.